The Easiest Way To Fillet A Fish

This old-school approach is suitable for beginners and can be used on flat or round swimmers.

September 14, 2015
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ILLUSTRATIONS BY JOHN BOURGYNE

 

Place a gutted and scaled fish on a stable surface. You’ll want a heavy chef’s knife and a very sharp filleting knife with a thin, flexible 6- to 8-inch blade that allows you to feel the bones as you cut.

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Position the blade of the chef’s knife behind the gills and side fin. Push down on the knife’s spine.

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Rock the knife until it cuts through the bones to the other side. Reserve the head for making fish stock.

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Run a fillet knife down the top of the fish from neck to tail, inserting the knife tip 1/2 inch deep into the flesh.

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Pull back the top flap of flesh. Make another, deeper cut, splitting the fish all the way to the end of the backbone.

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With the knife flat against the bones, slice from neck to tail, cutting through the rib bones to release the fillet.

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Flip the fish over and repeat steps 4, 5, and 6 on the other side, this time working from tail to neck.

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Remove ribs attached to the fillets, slicing just underneath the bones and pulling them away with your other hand.

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Trim away loose skin flaps. If necessary, remove needlelike pin bones by pulling each one out with pliers.

 

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Steve Callahan is the Gulf seafoods buyer for Whole Foods Market.

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